Children across Newry, Mourne and Down have been enjoying a summer of play at free outdoor play sessions running in seven locations throughout July and August.
The summer programme, which is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), offers local children aged 4 to 11 years the opportunity to create positive relationships through play. The sessions include playing with loose parts (free and found materials), arts and crafts, den building, team games and much more.
The play sessions are being delivered by PlayBoard NI in partnership with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council who also organised a very special event on Wednesday 3 August at Down Leisure Centre, Downpatrick to mark Playday. Playday is a national day for play, celebrated each year across the UK on the first Wednesday in August which encourages families, communities, and organisations large and small, to consider how they can build better opportunities for all children to play.
Speaking at the Playday event in Down Leisure Centre, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Michael Savage said, “It is great to be here today on national Playday and see so many local families getting involved to celebrate children and young people’s right to play. Campaigning for play where you live can make a huge difference not only to local children, young people and families, but to whole communities.
Chairperson, Cllr Savage continued, “Schemes such as the FreePlay projects, which are being delivered across our district over the summer months, give the young people in our community a superb opportunity to come together to make new friends and to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I would like to thank Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) and all our funding partners for the financial support and to PlayBoard NI for the excellent delivery of the sessions which have provided our local children with a safe place to learn and grow through play.”
Highlighting the importance of play, Alan Herron, PlayBoard CEO said, “As the lead organisation for the development of children and young people’s play in Northern Ireland, PlayBoard is delighted to be continuing our work with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council creating opportunities for children to play.”
Speaking about Playday, Alan said, “Play is important every day, but especially on Playday when children, young people and communities across the UK come together to celebrate the many positive impacts of play on children’s lives. Holding play sessions across the council area on Playday and throughout the summer allows local children to spend time with their friends outdoors, experience new ways to play in their communities helping them feel connected, and most importantly, to have fun. Play is essential for a happy, healthy childhood and we encourage adults and communities to allow children and young people the time and space to play, not just on Playday but every day.”
Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.